VA (Veteran Affairs) Health care application ‘short form’

Leveraged policy and user research to reduce the health care application time by two-thirds for ~40% of Veterans.

These thoughts are mine alone, I do not speak on behalf of any organization.


Accessibility Expert, Content Writer, Frontend & Backend Developers, Product Manager, UX Researcher/Designer


UX Researcher and Designer


~ 9 months


The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the largest integrated health care network in the US, provides health care to millions of Veterans, with tens of thousands applying for coverage each month on As part of an embedded multidisciplinary strategic VA sprint team, I worked to improve the VA health care application experience.

We leveraged policy, business, and user research to reimagine a health care application experience that reduced qualified user time spent on application by two-thirds and saw an unprecedented 100% submission rate in the first month post launch.


Our initial Discovery analytics review and subsequent user research, indicated two sections of the health care application that caused high abandonment rates due to comprehension confusion, navigation friction, and the need for users to often have to leave the application in search of additional information, such as financial statements. 

With these two sections identified as pain points to address in priority, we held several stakeholder workshops to better understand the policy and organizational requirements around them. We discovered that there were various qualifying factors in an application decision, and that ~40% of Veterans can qualify for health care without providing the information that was requested in these two burdensome sections. They could be skipped altogether!

The solution

We redesigned the application flow to place the newly determined prequalifying questions in the beginning, so that users meeting the eligibility requirements can skip unnecessary sections.

To test this flow and the new UI designs, I conducted a task analysis study with Veterans recruited for each use case in both the authenticated and unauthenticated experiences.

User flow for one use care of the short form


With no user research participants indicating likelihood of abandonment and 100% of participants who received the short form expressing that the ease of use and required time exceeded their expectations, we began a staged rollout of this new flow.

We worked with the VA Health Executive Committee to coordinate with both internal and external communication and press teams, Veteran support call centers, and health care application processors to raise awareness of the new short form pre-launch. We implemented key analytics to closely monitor for indication of increased drop-offs or reduced submission rates. 


We were able to quickly scale up, and saw a 100% submission rate 1 month post launch. 

Because of this initiative’s success, further policy research is being conducted to find other potential opportunities to expand the short form to more health care applicant types. The Discovery research continues to drive the product roadmap with redesigns in-progress for the two identified pain point sections still used by those who don’t qualify for the short form.

Veteran quotes

"It was quick, I didn’t have to go into any office to do it, it was straightforward… it’s pretty simple. and it’s not time-consuming."

"You can fill out a shorter one? Wow. That’s pretty good…That would be good. You know to fill out a shorter application, I think that would be good. Because [typically] they [VA] want to know everything, but like [just having to provide] place of birth, that’s easy."

"It’s super easy to fill out."


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